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Letters to the Editor for the week of April 26th, 2012

Delivering another memorable Telus Festival

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Page 5 of 7

Not all French cafes (also called bars or bistros... the choice is up to the owner) have a restaurant license. Quite a few don't and are only allowed to serve food items that aren't prepared by a chef in a professional kitchen. They only serve cold or grilled sandwiches, a cold quiche, salad, pastries, etc.  

The name of an establishment will usually, but not always, show whether there is a restaurant section or not. "Cafe de la Gare" is only a cafe (bar). "Cafe-restaurant de la Gare" is a cafe with a restaurant. There are always of course the exceptions that only the natives in a given location are aware of.   

If one orders a drink and/or a sandwich at the bar one MUST consume them right there, at the bar. One is NOT ALLOWED by law to take them to a table inside or outside. Prices can be — by law — different depending on where one stands or sits in a cafe, though not all establishments bother to have three different price lists. Drinking at the bar — often standing — means that one will leave quickly, while sitting at a terrace means that one can stay for one hour, watching the world go by, reading a book, etc.   

All restaurants MUST post outside, near the front door, a choice of several set meals, each for a different fixed price. Hotels and stores — including luxury ones — must also post their prices (Near the door for a hotel, in a window display for a store).

In the winegrowing region of France I come from, drinking a glass of wine outside meal times is not really done. One drinks beer or any one of a variety of before-meal or after-meal drinks that some foreign tourists may confuse with wine.

Not all restaurants in France that serve great food are elegant. My relatives have taken me to very popular places that were an old ramshackle farmhouse with rustic furniture and dogs running around the dining room (in all legality).

Many bars and restaurants in Europe — not just in France — are proud of a decor that hasn't changed for generations.   

By the way, Quebec culture in terms of food and drinks and their laws are different from those in France and other European francophone countries.

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